What If It’s OK?

Do you have something you do that you wish you did differently?

You’re like, “C’mon Gila, of course. What kind of question is that?”

Ok, well, out of the myriad of things that popped into your mind, pick one!

Here’s my example: I wish I had more clout and confidence with my private clients. I feel small. I feel like the shy 12-year-old girl who dreamed of becoming a nutritionist some day. And while I’ve integrated a bit over recent years, that nagging feeling is still there. It may be smaller, but I feel like it goes even deeper the longer I have it.

So I’ve been struggling with how to approach my new upcoming move with my current private client. Do I even mention it at all? After all, self-disclosure is not very professional and quite unnecessary. Let me just send him some options for when we can next tele-meet, end of story.

But then something funny happened. I had a shift. This particular client is a family friend, so perhaps that played into it, but I think it is transferable to my client relationship in general.

I realized in speaking more with my client, that he had a sense of humor. Actually, to be quite honest, I think the number of jokes he made in our first session outweighed the number of serious comments. But that being said, within the jokes was truth (as there always is!) so they too provided information, just in a more creative, raw way.

Well, as someone who used to do stand-up comedy at open mic nights, I was thrilled to have a client shooting one-liners. It was quite a unique type of session. We still covered the necessary material, but I was simply so amused. I even laughed hours later thinking about some of the jokes he made. What an unexpectedly entertaining event!

So that’s more backstory on this client.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to figure out how to schedule our next session, since our first session was prior to me finding out that I had to pack up all my belongings and move.

I’m kind of busier now than I thought I’d be!

After mulling it over for about a week or so, it came to me: Just be real!

I am pretty good at empathizing with people. At learning their likes and dislikes. At mirroring their body langauuge, their tone. That’s what makes me good at doing impressions of certain characters and certain accents. It’s also what makes me good at denying who I am to try to fit in—such as when I was growing up, and even still, in a much more minor degree, today.

I always dreamed of being on TV. And you see, I’ve actually been an actress all along!

I’ve been pretending to be someone that I’m not, in order to fit in. Partially because I hid the parts of me that I feared wouldn’t be accepted and partially because I didn’t let part of me even develop at all, because it wasn’t a trait valued by my peers, by society—so why even try?

This is a truth that I’ve always known but the depth of which has really crystalized for me in the past couple years. (Thus my “35 and Alive” poem from last year—you can search my blog for it. Or you can save your time and just shell out a few bucks and buy my Pandemic Poetry book wherein it lies, #shamefulplug.)

This morning, I realized that there is no need to hide my move. Rather to transmute it and make it relevant to the professional relationship I have with my client.

Nutrition and lifestyle counseling, to me, is all about making people realize that they do not have to disown themselves, restrict themselves, guilt themselves, shame themselves, hate themselves, in order to motivate change.

Rather, quite the opposite: They are lovable just as they are! Their messy, chaotic life is wonderful!! And I am going to learn about it so I can help them make more sense of areas where they think they could slowly but surely start to make improvements.

Cuz, guess what?! Overhauling everything you do doesn’t equate to lasting change—it’s about small, realistic steps.

And guess what else? Hating yourself doesn’t ACTUALLY push you further toward your goal. We think it does cuz it seems to have worked all these years. But like a football superstition, your team hasn’t been winning all these years because you’ve always been wearing the quarterback’s jersey which you haven’t washed since college.

But because these evens are co-incidents, we see it as cause and effect. We take security in that.

Kind of like how my 3-year-old daughter thinks bandaids magically heal her boo-boos (it’s both adorable and pitiable).

So now that we have established that hating yourself/self-loathing/negative self-talk as form of motivation was concurrent with your past successes, but not the cause of them, let’s get back to why I sat down to write this blog and pushed off eating my breakfast.

In speaking with my client, I realized that me being human, and artfully acknowledging my humanness to my client, was part of my whole-person approach in nutrition counseling. I found a way to mention it by tying it into his own recent life experiences.

And you know what?

I honestly expressed the complexity of my current schedule while at the same time not pretending to be some guru on a pedestal.

Years ago when I started in my nutrition career after graduating in 2010, I had an image of how I saw myself as nutrition counselor: Not as someone standing high up on a mountain and helping my client climb up to reach me. Rather, I was on another mountain of the same height, alongside my client’s mountain, and we were both making our way, climbing up the mountain.

You see, I have my things I am working on. You have your things. I have been trained to help you with certain areas of life, but that doesn’t make me all high and mighty. I’m flawed too! I got my own sh** (lots of it!).

This message empowers rather than disempowers a client.

After all, who wants someone talking down to them?


Also, the client truly is the expert of their own life. They know themselves the best, their life circumstances, what works for them, what doesn’t.

I am simply a facilititor.

Not only was it a relief for me to come out of the guru closet and just be a human (in a professional and artful, thought-out way, not letting it ALL hang out), but it enhanced the patient-provider relationship and my ability to connect with my client and continue with him on his wellness journey.

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